We hear quite a bit about war heroes, but I’ve never heard of this person. They were a very successful sniper, who managed to take out 309 axis soldiers in their career. They were studying history at the time, but signed up immediately when the Germans invaded Russia.
And if you haven’t guessed by now, she’s a she.
The recruiter she spoke with suggested she was better suited for a role as a nurse or in a clerical position. Not to be dissuaded, she pulled out her Voroshilov Sharpshooter badge and a marksman certificate, both of which she’d earned while a teenager as a member of the OSOAVIAKhIM, which was a society that trained non-military people as young as 14 years old in military tactics and other such things in case they would someday be called into service to “defend the Motherland”.
After seeing this, the recruiter allowed her to sign up for combat duty and she was subsequently given the rank of private and assigned to a subsection of the 25th Chapayev Rifle Division, the 54th “Stephan Razin” Rifles Regiment, in the Red Army. With her regiment, thanks to her prodigious skill as a marksman, she was immediately assigned to the 2nd company sniper platoon.
Over the course of the next year, she recorded 309 confirmed kills, including 187 in her first 75 days on the job during the fierce fighting at Odessa, before the Soviets were forced to withdraw.
And while I think I’ve shared Mariya Oktyabrskaya’s story before, what the hell.
Initially, the army was skeptical of her ability to handle a tank. However, she quickly proved in training that she could drive, shoot, and throw grenades with the best of them — skills she’d picked up from her late husband, with whom she’d presumably had some interesting dates.
On her first outing in the tank, she outmaneuvered the German soldiers, killing around thirty of them and taking out an anti-tank gun. When they shelled her tank, immobilizing Fighting Girlfriend, she got out — in the middle of a firefight — and repaired the damn thing. She then got back in and proceeded to kill more Germans.
Russian soldiers are both excellent examples of what women are capable of, as well as what holds them back.